Why do we wear black in the winter? Plus, a Winter soup recipe

It’s Winter! Time to sleep early, rest well, stay warm and nourish the Kidneys.

With the temperatures dropping in Ontario, here we are again, heading into winter. The winter season is associated with bundling up, tucking in, getting cozy - the utmost yin time, and in contrast to the summer when our extroverted yang self gets to party, we're now leaning into a slower, more inward space to (ideally!) rest and rejuvenate. Many people in the clinic are commenting that with the sun setting so early, they can't wait to jump into bed after dinner and evening activities wrap up. We encourage this!

Traditional Chinese Medicine also reminds us that winter is connected to the Kidneys: the body's vital and fundamental energy storehouses. The Kidneys are also associated with the color black - perhaps it's not such a coincidence that many people tend to wear black in the winter - are we subconsciously wanting to give our kidneys a boost? Way to go, us ;) Some folks even wear an extra layer, like a waist-scarf, around their lower backs where the kidneys reside. This can be helpful especially if you feel coldness in your body, or your lower back.

Acupuncture and moxibustion can also be helpful treatments to boost your kidney energy - feeling run down and tired, experiencing anxiousness and stress, having frequent urination or nighttime urination, edema (swelling) especially in your lower body, night sweating, lower back pain and knee pain, signs of perimenopause or menopause, and difficulties getting pregnant can sometimes be related to the energy of the kidney. Contact an Acupuncturist if you have questions or would like to explore some treatments around boosting and balancing the energy of the kidneys.

Shifting Your Diet to Reflect the Change in Season

In addition to getting more rest, it’s time to start steaming, stewing, boiling and roasting your veggies and moving away from raw (which can be hard on digestion, can increase feelings of cold, and can deplete energy). The winter is a good time to eat hearty soups, roasted nuts, and whole grains to warm the body’s core and to keep the body nourished.

Do you want to increase your vitality and health this winter? Some suggestions, based on Traditional Chinese Medicine principles, include:

Vegetables: Fennel, cabbage, leek, radish, onions, scallions, root vegetables, kelp, seaweed

Grains: oats, millet, rice, corn

Legumes: lentils, kidney beans, black beans, adzuki beans

Fruits: Cherries, grapes

Nuts/seeds: walnut, chestnut, sunflower, black sesame

Fish: smoked fish, oysters, lobster, salmon, shrimp, tuna, mussels

Meat: Game meat (venison, boar, lamb), duck, pork, eggs, bone broth, miso soup

Spices: ginger, garlic, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, honey

Green tea with spices (chai tea)

Foods should be cooked (boiled, grilled, stewed), and eaten in soups and stews. Try to avoid cold, frozen and raw foods. Drink warm or room temperature drinks, including water. Skip the ice!

Acupuncture Annex co-founder Marcel Cozma shares his Root Vegetable Soup recipe - a kidney and spleen nourishing combo!

What you need:

4 Parsnips, 1 turnip, 2 kohlrabi, 2 celery sticks, 2 carrots, a bunch of scallions, 1 garlic clove, 1 tsp of minced ginger, 2 tbsp of fennel (diced), ½ cup of barley, 1L vegetable broth, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tbsp of butter.


Dice the vegetable into cubes. Sauté the garlic and the scallions in the butter for 1-2 min. then add the vegetables, the vegetable broth and water if needed. Boil until vegetables are soft. Season the soup with salt and pepper. When done, place the soup in the blender and purée the ingredients. Separately boil the barley. Add the barley in the puree. Garnish with toasted walnuts. Enjoy!

For more info on Chinese medicine, winter and the kidneys, check out this post by Chinese Medicine Living.


Acupuncture Annex offers registered acupuncture treatments by clinic founders Marcel Cozma and Danielle Cullimore. A quiet, clean clinic in downtown Toronto, we are tucked away at 358 Dupont Street inside of Eight Branches Clinic. Free parking is available in front of our clinic and we are minutes away from Dupont subway. Acupuncture can help with sleep issues, depression, anxiety, tiredness, chronic pain, injuries, pregnancy care, and more. Contact us with questions or book your appointment online.

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